RED BANK: RUMAGE REFLECTS ON FIVE YEARS

JARED RUMAGE, red bankSuperintendent Jared Rumage wished middle schoolers a nice holiday weekend on the Friday before Memorial Day in May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s school district still faces stiff financial challenges, but is “without question” in all-around better shape than it was when he arrived five years ago, says Superintendent Jared Rumage.

And as he did at a presentation last week, Rumage is hoping to leverage the narrative of that improvement to win voter approval of a $6.75 million referendum in November.

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RED BANK: $6.75M REFERENDUM PLANNED

RED BANK primary school Red Bank Primary School, with a newly completed fire access road at left, would get a new roof if the November 5 measure passes. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A referendum on $6.75 million worth of school improvements will be on the ballot for Red Bank voters in November, under a plan approved by the board of education Tuesday night.

The project won’t increase property tax bills, officials said.

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RED BANK: KNIGHTS DELIVER COATS FOR KIDS

tom wieczerzak, red bank, knights of columbus, coats for kidsTom Wieczerzak with two of the 50 coats delivered to the primary school Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank, nj, done good, Red Bank Primary School nurse Cathy Reardon sees it every winter year, she said: students in threadbare, hand-me-down coats, sometimes a couple of sizes too small.

Beginning immediately, though, those kids will be getting new winter coats for free, thanks to the efforts of the borough-based Knights of Columbus council #525.

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RBR, LOCAL DISTRICT TO HOST FORUMS

Red Bank Regional needs a new roof and more classroom space, officials say. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Regional High and the Red Bank school district each plan to host future-oriented public information sessions in coming days.

For RBR, the focus is a $17.9 million capital plan up for approval by voters in the sending towns of Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury.

For Red Bank, it’s about a strategic plan to make the two-school district “best in America.”

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RED BANK: DISTRICT GETS FUNDING BOOST

Jobs and after-school programs that were cut this spring are being restored, said Superintendent Jared Rumage, seen at left with board president Fred Stone before a lobbying trip to Trenton in 2017. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank school officials have been busy in recent days restoring jobs, programs and contracts eliminated just four months ago.

Under Governor Phil Murphy’s first budget, the borough’s 1,422-student pre-K-8 district saw a 55-percent jump in state aid, which board members said Tuesday night was a cause for both celebration and frustration.

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RED BANK: SCHOOL TAX HIKE, JOB CUTS LOOM

Jobs and after-school programs are on the cutting block unless the state comes through with an additional $750,000, said Superintendent Jared Rumage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The average Red Bank homeowner would pay about $117 more in taxes to support borough schools this year if New Jersey legislators don’t come through with more funding, Superintendent Jared Rumage said Tuesday night.

Even with the levy increase, the local primary and middle schools could see cuts in staffing and extracurricular programs such as jazz band and the fledgling cross-country track team, he said.

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RED BANK: STATE UPHOLDS CHARTER RENEWAL

The charter school’s main building, on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School does not engage in “segregative” enrollment practices, the New Jersey Department of Education ruled last week in upholding the school’s latest five-year operating charter.

In letter dated April 16 to the charter school, Acting Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet rejected assertions of bias by Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey, and found instead that the charter school “is seeking, ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’ to enroll a cross-section of Red Bank Borough’s school-age population.”

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RED BANK: CHARTER AID BOOST SLAMMED

District officials say they may have to eliminate a new cross-country program in order to balance the budget. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank school board members and parents reacted with outrage Monday night to an effective reduction in state aid under funding announced by the administration of Governor Phil Murphy last week.

Though nominally a $178,503 increase for the district, more than that sum is to be relayed to the Red Bank Charter School, Superintendent Jared Rumage said at a board meeting at the primary school.

With the district seeing an effective decline in aid while state funding to the charter school’s rises $1,025 per student, “I think the time has come to have the discussion about running two public schools in Red Bank,” Rumage told redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: CHAMPION HOOPSTERS HONORED

Players from the Red Bank Middle School girls’ basketball team, seen here with coach Amy Campbell and boys’ coach Issac Nathanson, won plaudits at the borough council meeting Wednesday night for nabbing their first Shore Athletic League championship in 24 years last month. Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: WALKOUTS GET DETENTION

Fair Haven Superintendent Sean McNeil, seen below at a January event, expressed pride in Knollwood students who walked out, but told them there had to be consequences. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Seventy-two Fair Haven middle school students were ordered to report for detention after participating in a walkout Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of a mass school shooting in Florida.

Meanwhile, just half a mile away, hundreds of Red Bank Regional High students observed the nationwide walkout without penalty. But the fact that they were sequestered within the confines of the school stadium, and surrounded by police, irked at least one student.

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RED BANK: UNDEFEATED SOCCER TEAM LAUDED

Sporting neckties that many of them learned to tie just an hour earlier, the members of the Red Bank Middle School boys’ soccer team appeared at the borough council meeting Wednesday night, when they were lauded for a second consecutive undefeated season.

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RED BANK: INKY PROBES SEGREGATION CLAIMS

The Red Bank Charter School on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Is the Red bank school district segregated? And if so, is the Red Bank Charter School at fault?

An article published Thursday on philly.com, the online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer, probes that question, and whether others among New Jersey’s 88 charter schools are also segregated.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL WINS GYM OK

A rendering of the proposed charter school gym, which wouldn’t have room for bleachers, an architect said. (Rendering by Erick Wagner. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School won approval Thursday night to create a gym in part of a commercial building it plans to buy on Monmouth Street.

In the process, the zoning board hearing on the plan re-exposed some long-simmering resentments harbored by parents who contend the charter school’s existence is a drain on the local school district.

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RED BANK: CHARTER, RAYRAP ON AGENDA

A view of 135-137 Monmouth Street as seen through windows at the Red Bank Charter School, its prospective next owner. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank zoning board this week takes up two projects that have generated heat in the past, one involving the Red Bank Charter School and the other a townhouse plan by builder Ray Rapcavage.

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RED BANK: CHARTER DATA RELEASE ORDERED

Judy DeHaven, below, claims the Red Bank Charter School “continues to operate without transparency or accountability.” (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The New Jersey Government Records Council earlier this week ordered the Red Bank Charter School to release demographic data it failed to provide to a borough resident under an Open Public Records Act request.

The state agency, acting on a complaint filed by Judy DeHaven, found on Tuesday that the school had unlawfully withheld data showing the breakdown of the student population by grade, gender, race, ethnicity and other factors.

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RED BANK: EXTRA CASH FUNDS TEACHER HIRES

An increase in state aid enabled the district to add two teachers Tuesday night, with more coming, says the superintendent. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Board of Education approved the hiring Tuesday of two teachers whose jobs were made possible by an increase of $512,682 in additional state aid.

Up to six more teachers and instructional aides are expected to be added to the district’s payroll for the coming school year under what Superintendent Jared Rumage called a “gigantic” cash infusion from Trenton into the still-underfunded district.

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RED BANK: SCHOOL TAX TO RISE 3.26 PERCENT

Facilities are growing tighter as enrollment rises, said Superintendent Jared Rumage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Board of Education approved a $22 million budget that would raise the local school portion of property tax bills by 3.26 percent Tuesday night.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL TO BUY BUILDING

The building, in which the charter school now rents space, has several commercial tenants, and another slated to take the retail space formerly leased by Prown’s Home Improvements. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School plans to buy a commercial building that adjoins its Oakland Street home under a plan approved by the school’s board of trustees Tuesday night.

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RED BANK: ACLU ENTERS CHARTER BATTLE

CPA Scott Landau turns a drum as business administrator Theresa Shirley looks on during the charter school enrollment lottery last April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The American Civil Liberties Union has joined two other organizations already waging war on the Red Bank Charter School‘s existence.

The ACLU of New Jesey said Thursday that, along with Fair Schools Red Bank and the Latino Coalition of New Jersey , it would appeal the state Department of Education’s decision earlier this week to allow the 19-year-old school to operate for at least another five years.

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RED BANK: CHARTER WINS FIVE MORE YEARS

The Red Bank Charter School campus on Oakland Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The Red Bank Charter School is good to go for at least another five years, following an extension of its operating charter announced Wednesday night.

The generally expected renewal comes amid an upswell of tension over the school’s existence, in the form of a pending claim of segregation.

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RED BANK: FEDS TAKE ON ‘SEGREGATION’ CASE

The Red Bank Charter School, on Oakland Street, hotly disputes allegations that the borough schools are “segregated” as a result of its enrollment practices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As requested three months ago by two advocacy groups, the federal Justice Education Department is investigating allegations of segregation leveled at the Red Bank Charter School, correspondence obtained by redbankgreen on Tuesday showed.

The decision by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation “in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit,” a government letter to the complainants said.

But the revelation set off a fresh round of sniping in a bitter battle over the charter school’s existence.

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